Suspended Chinese swimmer Sun Yang turns to selling cosmetics by livestreams, attracting million of netizens
Published: Jan 16, 2022 07:33 PM
Sun Yang at 2017 Chinese National Games Photo: VCG

Sun Yang at 2017 Chinese National Games Photo: VCG

 With his athletic career on hold for four years, it seems that Chinese swimmer Sun Yang has turned to selling cosmetics online to make a living. The three-time Olympic champion until he was barred from swimming for four years for a doping test, Sun hosted livestreams on Friday and Saturday, attracting millions of netizens and making more than 30 million yuan ($4.72 million) in sales.

During his livestreams on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, Sun promoted products by cosmetic brands such as CPB, SK-II and Estee Lauder in a duty free store in South China's Hainan Province for a total of five hours over the course of the two days. 

Sun seemed very familiar with the process of selling goods online and cooperated well with several assistants. He introduced the products, including makeup and facial masks, using terminology like beauty blogger and was also able to react rapidly during the livestream, saying one produce "can make you look like a rose."

The total amount of Sun's sales in the Duty-free City exceeded 33 million yuan, Sports Money reported. The report said that Sun's income from this live broadcasting is expected to reach 6 million yuan before taxes and 3.6 million yuan after taxes.

Sun's livestream topped the charts for all livestreams on Douyin during that same period, and the related hashtag for the event dominated the trending chart on Sina Weibo on Friday, attracting the attention of numerous netizens.

Sun Yang Photo: screenshot of video on Douyin

Sun Yang Photo: screenshot of video on Douyin

 Sun has more than 3.8 million followers on Douyin and over 30 million followers on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

Many media and netizens have dubbed Sun the "Li Jiaqi of the sports world" for his choice to sell cosmetics online. Li is widely seen as China's top livestreamer in this sector. 

Sun turning to selling goods online during his suspension from attending competitions got a variety of reactions on Chinese social media.

Some netizens said that this is Sun's personal choice and that there is nothing wrong with him making an income off of a livestream, which is currently very trendy, so long as he pays his taxes in accordance with the law.

However, some internet users criticized Sun, saying he should train more and prepare for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics instead of focusing his attention and energy on the latest trendy industry.

"I had confidence in Sun's shining comeback at the 2024 Olympic Games as he is a genius in swimming and can compete for another golden medal after two years, but now I am a little hesitant. Livestreaming might diffuse his energy. Hope he can bob up like a cork and prove himself during training," Zhang, a fan of China's national swim team, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Another swimming lover based in Beijing also expressed similar concerns.

Many Chinese sports stars, including table tennis player Zhang Jike, former leader of China's female volleyball team Hui Ruoqi and diving champion Wu Minxia, have promoted goods on livestreams.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport in February 2020 slapped an eight-year ban on Sun in September 2018 after finding him guilty of refusing to cooperate with sample collectors during a visit to his Hangzhou home. In June 2021, the suspension was reduced to 51 months - four years and three months - which means it will expire in May 2024, only weeks before the opening ceremony of the Paris Games.